The amazing Anne Smith, Sean Oisin "Ozzie" (3) and Eleanor Louisa (7.5 months).
Anne says that prior to having children she wanted to give birth via elective cesarean. It wasn't that she had any actual negative connotations surrounding birth but from what she had seen on television she thought it looked terrifying and didn't want to feel what it was like. Through working at a naturally minded mom and baby boutique she learned a lot about pregnancy and birth and took natural birthing classes.
Ozzie's pregnancy was text book throughout. Her water broke at midnight and he was born by 11:30am the next day. She labored with midwives and Ozzie was placed on her chest for skin to skin but was then taken away because they thought he was having difficulty breathing. She wasn't allowed to see him until she could get out of bed and move around but when she tried to, she passed out and ultimately had to wait 4-5 hours to see him. Once she was able to get to him he was doing well and they knew he was going to be fine but they wanted to make sure he was nursing well before he could leave the NICU. Later that evening they were able to transfer to the mother and baby unit later that evening and at two months, he was diagnosed with laryngomalacia (floppy larynx) which was what had made it sound like he was gasping for breath.
While Ozzie ended up being just fine, Anne struggled with his birth for quite some time. The experience wasn't what she had wanted and she had a hard time connecting with him. In part because she was scared of falling in love with him and in part due to her fear of going back to work at 8 weeks. She had read books that were helpful but also made her feel guilty. Anne's first day back at work, someone asked her how she was doing and she lost it but things got better. She had a lot of pumping support at work and providing her milk to her baby allowed her to feel less guilty for being away.
Pregnancy with Eleanor was more difficult for Anne. She was commuting quite a distance for in the winter months and Eleanor tried to arrive early at 34 weeks and then again at 35 but was was able to carry to 37 weeks. She had been able to get steroid shots and they realized she had a high leak before they were able to break her water fully and induce labor. Anne had been given Demerol and Pitocin, but the Demerol caused her to hallucinate and imagine conversations that never happened. She labored through the day and into the evening with much more intensity than she'd had with Ozzie. When she felt Eleanor descend to the birth canal she felt focused and in control and almost pushed her out into her husbands lap just seconds before her midwife returned.
Postpartum was more difficult following Eleanor's birth due to life stressors including a big move and the violence in our culture towards children that we hear so frequently in our media. She has moments she wants to hold her children all day but she can't and so she's had to find those other ways to connect. Anne says sorting through what people tell you, you should or shouldn't do and instead finding what works for you and your children is so important. She used to judge people who co-slept but has found that with both of her children, that time at night and pumping for them are the things that allow her to feel okay with being a working mom.
Both Ozzie and Eleanor are nursing which is another experience, Anne never imagined she'd have. She enjoys nursing Eleanor and though she has moments where nursing her son is difficult she knows it's something that he needs at this point in life. She's never had any issues with supply and has been able to donate over 150oz of milk.
As a teen, like so many, Anne obsessed over magazines and felt a lot of time feeling poorly about herself and her size. She hopes to instill in her children the notion that women are amazing and powerful and that a healthy body is a good body whatever that may look like.